'(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1 of this Act in relation to initial members, the number of members of the Assembly shall be one hundred for the second and subsequent ordinary elections for the Assembly.
(2) The Boundary Commission for Scotland shall prepare a scheme for one hundred Assembly constituencies and shall submit a report to the Secretary of State for Scotland not later than one year after the date of the first Assembly election.
(3) The members of the Assembly other than the initial members, shall be returned for the Assembly constituencies for the time being specified in an Order in Council under Schedule 1 of this Act and there shall be one member for each such constituency.'.—[Mr. Buchanan-Smith.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
§ Mr. Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments, also standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith):
No. 79, in Schedule 1, page 40, line 4, at end insert'for the first ordinary election only'.No. 80, in page 40, line 8, at end insert'for the first ordinary election only: for the second and subsequent ordinary elections the electorate of any Assembly constituency shall be as near the electorate of any other Assembly constituency.'No. 81, in page 40, line 14, at end insert'for the first ordinary election only'.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hesitate to raise this matter, for two reasons. The first is that we have little enough time anyway for discussion of the amendments today. The second is the 451 unnecessarily long-winded point of order put by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery).
Amendment No. 117, standing in my name, was properly in order in the initial stages and on the Amendment Paper, but it was not selected for discussion in the earlier proceedings because it required a technical paving amendment. Hon. Members do not put down technical paving amendments on Report in order to suit the convenience of the House, and because no such amendment had been put down, Amendment No. 117 was not scheduled for discussion on Report.
As soon as this matter arose—it could not be found out until yesterday that Amendment No. 117 had not been selected—I tabled the necessary paving amendments, Nos. 126 and 127, but Amendment No. 117 has still not been selected for discussion. At times, it is possible, within discretion, for a manuscript amendment to be acceptable, but certainly a starred amendment is frequently allowed to be discussed.
In this case, we have an amendment which is not starred because it has been down for weeks—indeed, for months, since we previously had it down on the Scotland and Wales Bill. The only amendments starred in this connection are the necessary technical paving amendments. This seems to me to widen the possibility of discretion being applied, not in order that the starred amendments may be discussed but so that the substantive amendment, No. 117, may be discussed.
The question of whether Scotland is to become a separate State is manifestly, at least to everyone in Scotland, the crucial subject with which we have to deal. It is a subject that has occupied Scotland over the last seven or eight years. Yet it now appears that it may be the one topic throughout the Bill which will never even have been discussed.
I therefore ask for reconsideration on your part, Mr. Speaker, so that it will not be the technicality that prevents it, and that, if it is prevented, it will be understood to be by reason of the unnecessary amount of time being given by the House to relatively unimportant matters as opposed to this absolutely crucial matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West 452 (Mr. Buchan) for the way in which he raised his point of order. I gave a good deal of thought to the hon. Gentleman's amendment. He is correct in saying that his original amendment was out of order because it lacked the necessary paving. I am a little surprised that it was only yesterday that he discovered that paving was necessary. I will look at it again, of course, because the list was provisional. But, contrary to what the hon. Gentleman said, it is the exception rather than the rule for starred amendments to be called. It is not at all a general practice. When I have an opportunity, I will look at this question once again.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not know whether it would be in order for those who have a slightly different point of view to support my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) in his request and add, I hope, a little weight to your consideration. It is not only my hon. Friend who feels that this ought to be considered. I bring to aid the Scottish Council of the Labour Party—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have already said that I will consider this. To continue to discuss the matter further would be to take up time of the House which could be used to greater advantage.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I make no apology for returning on Report, albeit in a rather different form, to the number of Assemblymen. I have found, not with standing the discussions in Committee, that this is one topic which is important for its own sake in relation to constitutional change of this consequence and which arouses considerable interest and discussion within Scotland among those who have been following our debates on the Bill.
Given the restriction of time, I do not intend to go back in detail over the previous discussions that we have had. Indeed, I should prefer to let what I say this afternoon start from the end of the discussion that we had in Committee. I am prepared to accept that the Government in their proposal have adopted what I would call, without being unfair to them, a convenience argument in regard to the number of Assemblymen. If the Assembly is to be established on the 453 timetable which the Government have envisaged, it is important that it should be related to some extent to the existing constituency boundaries in Scotland.
Accepting the Government's timetable, therefore, I do not regard it as unreasonable that the Government should wish to base their number of Assemblymen—two for each constituency—on the number of existing constituencies in Scotland, with an addition in the case of certain large constituencies, bringing the membership of the Assembly in this way to 150. I shall not argue about that because it would mean going over old ground, and I would rather concentrate at this stage on the merits of the new clause.
The new clause accepts the position as set out in the Bill in regard to the first election to the Scottish Assembly. What my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) and I are seeking to do is to change the number of Assemblymen for the second and subsequent elections to a number which we believe is more appropriate to that required to secure the success and efficient working of the Assembly. We maintain that, by delaying this change until the second and subsequent elections, sufficient time will be given for the Boundary Commission for Scotland to do what is necessary. Provision for this is made in the new clause. The first Assembly will be sitting for four years from the first election, and that will give ample time for the Boundary Commission for Scotland to draw up new constituency boundaries appropriate to the number of Assemblymen that we propose in the new clause.
I turn now to the provisions of the clause, which specifically deals with the number of Members. As I said at the beginning, I accept the Government's figure of 150, which is related, I believe, to what is convenient for getting the Assembly off the ground within the timetable envisaged by the Government. But if we were not under the disciplines and restrictions of the Government's timetable, I question whether we would choose that particular number for membership of the Assembly. I shall seek to support this proposition by a number of simple and fairly straightforward arguments which, I hope, will commend themselves 454 to hon. Members in all parts of the House, whether they support the principle of the Assembly or not.
My first and most important argument is one that is put very strongly in Scotland, particularly by those who oppose the Assembly, but it is put equally strongly by the supporters of a directly elected legislative Assembly in Scotland with its own Executive. We shall be setting up in Scotland an Assembly of 150 Members and still continuing to have 71 Scottish Members of this House. The effect will be that three representatives will in future be doing the work currently done by one representative.
It might be said by some people that perhaps the representation by one Member is not always entirely adequate, but when we compare the number of constituents that we represent in this House of Commons with the numbers of constituents represented by Members of other Assemblies elsewhere, I do not think it can fairly be said that we represent too many constituents. It does not make sense to multiply by three the number of people who are to do the work. I quite accept that, if we are to have an Assembly, there must be some addition to the number of representatives, but I do not see why it should have to go up from 71 to 150. I do not believe that that makes any sense at all, and for that reason I think that the Government's proposals must be scrutinised very closely indeed.
One of the arguments of those who oppose the establishment of the Scottish Assembly is put on the ground of economy. That is an important argument. But, as I believe that the establishment of an Assembly will improve our system of government in the United Kingdom and extend our democracy, I have accepted all along that there is bound to be a certain increase in expenditure. This is one of the costs that I am prepared to pay for the efficient operation of democracy in this country. Equally, however, those who criticise the proposals in the Bill have a legitimate argument if the scale of the expenditure in setting up an Assembly is beyond what is reasonably justified. I believe that those who criticise the Bill on grounds of expense and lack of economy have a legitimate argument when they point to the number of Members proposed.
455 For these reasons, I believe that the number of Assemblymen ought not to be related in the long term to the convenience of the initial electoral arrangements. It ought to be related to what is best for carrying out the work of the Assembly in the long term once it is established.
I wish to make a third point which is equally important. I personally have no doubt that when the Assembly elections take place there will be a sufficiency of persons offering themselves for election to the Assembly. But, given that Scotland has a population of just over 5 million, we must accept that there is a physical limit to the number of people who are suitably qualified, or with the proper motivation and ability, to offer themselves for public service of one sort or another. I think that that is true, particularly with regard to the initial stages of the Assembly.
The Scottish people will then be electing representatives to the European Parliament, the United Kingdom Parliament, the Assembly, regional councils and district councils. Given the population base in Scotland, I believe that we are putting far too great a demand on the number of suitable persons who should be elected to these different offices.
Of course, in the longer term my argument is that there ought to be a subsequent consequential change in local government in order to return local government to single-tier, all-purpose authorities. That would remove one tier of government. I believe that we should seriously consider this. But, even if we did that in the longer term, I still believe that it does not make sense, nor is it necessary, to increase the size of the Assembly's membership beyond what is necessary for the efficient operation and servicing of the Assembly.
Given that three people will be doing the work of one, given an economy in expenditure and given that we want the best use of those from within Scotland who are prepared to serve their fellow men in public life, I believe that the Government's figure is set too high.
In that situation, what should be the right number? This is open to debate. The Government chose their number for electoral convenience with regard to the first election. I am interested in the 456 second and subsequent elections. I personally would favour a number of 71 based on the existing parliamentary constituencies, and I put forward that argument in Committee. That case can certainly be argued, although it is not one that I am arguing today.
What I have chosen to do is to base the new clause on the recommendations and conclusions of the Royal Commission on which the Bill is based. It is significant that in paragraphs 789 and 790 of the report, and also in the summary of conclusions in paragraph 1140, the Kilbrandon Commission came quite firmly to the conclusion that the best size for an Assembly should be "around 100" Members. For understandable reasons the Commission did not come to a precise recommendation but stated "around 100".
I do not consider that the figure of 150 which the Government have proposed can in any sense be described as "around 100". Since the Royal Commission decided on a figure of "around 100", the onus must be on the Government to say why for the longer term they have chosen a figure of 150. That is the first question I put to the Government. I hope that they will explain precisely why, for the longer term, they have rejected the argument of the Royal Commission.
I want to make another point with regard to the Royal Commission's report. While the Royal Commission was not unanimous—of course, there was a minority report as well—it is significant that there were no reservations about the figure of "around 100".
In paragraphs 789 and 790 of its report, the Royal Commission specifically examined the number of members in the Northern Ireland House of Commons. It is entirely appropriate in this context to look at the experience of the one subsidiary Assembly which had already been set up within the United Kingdom. That is why, in the new clause, I have tended towards 100, as suggested by the Royal Commission, rather than my initial choice of 71.
The Kilbrandon Commission questioned whether a Scottish Assembly of the size of around 50 Members would be adequate to carry out its work. One has to bear in mind that a Scottish Assembly will have to support its own Executive and Ministers as well as junior Ministers 457 in the form of Whips and so on. As well as these practical arguments, a number of other countries have Assemblies of the size which the Royal Commission suggests.
Another argument in favour of the Royal Commission's proposal—this would particularly have been the case had the Assembly been elected on proportional representation—is that the majority party, even under a first-past-the-post system, might not be in a majority numerically. It might be a minority Government. Where there was no formal coalition between two minority parties, one might get the largest single party governing with the support, but without the participation, of another minority party. In those circumstances, it would be important for the Assembly to be of a size which enabled it to support a full Executive. I therefore believe that an Assembly of "around 100" Members is more appropriate than one of 70 and certainly more appropriate than one of 150.
There is a further argument that I want to put forward. I have already referred to the United Kingdom's one precedent, Stormont. It is also worth looking at other countries to see what size of Assemblies they have. Probably the most appropriate countries to look at are ones with a federal structure, because we want to make a comparison with countries which have subsidiary rather than sovereign Assemblies.
I should make three comparisons, with Australia, Canada and the Federal Republic of Germany. I would mention in passing that Australia, with a population of 13 million, has a Parliament of only 125 members. But, of course, it has a second Chamber as well. My comparison is not with the federal but with the State level. There are two close comparisons with Scotland, with its population of 5 million. One is New South Wales, which has a population of 4.6 million and a main Chamber of 96. It also has a second Chamber of 60, but it is the main Chamber which matters for my purposes. Victoria, the only other State with a comparable population—3.5 million—has a main Chamber of 73. From these comparisons, one can see that the Government's figure of 150 is very high.
458 4.30 p.m.
In Canada I shall make a comparison with two provinces. Ontario, with a population of 7.7 million, has a main Chamber of 117 and Quebec, with a population of over 6 million, has a main Chamber of 108. Therefore, I hope that hon. Members will see from the examples of Australia and Canada, both of them Commonwealth countries with subsidiary Assemblies, that the size of the main Chamber is very much smaller than that proposed by the Government for Scotland.
My other comparison is with the Federal Republic of Germany and the example of Bavaria, which has a population of 11 million and a Chamber of 204 Members. Bavaria's population is nearly double that of Scotland. Therefore, by comparison with that region, a Scottish Assembly of 100 Members would be much more appropriate.
It is also interesting to look at other countries which have a unitary system of government. New Zealand, with a population of 3 million, has 87 Members and Norway, which is often compared with Scotland and has a population of 4 million, has 116 Members. I hope I have shown the House that other countries, working under the system of government most comparable to that which we are trying to set up in Scotland, have much smaller Assemblies than the one proposed by the Government.
I hope that the new clause will have the support of both sides of the House. I put it forward in the interests of the best working of the Scottish Assembly. An Assembly of the size that I, propose is much more in accordance with the wishes of people in Scotland. It is not necessary to have an Assembly of the size proposed by the Government. By proposing it, the Government are gratuitously yielding to the arguments of those who oppose the Assembly on the ground of additional cost and bureaucracy. I hope that for the second and subsequent elections the Government will accept an Assembly of the size that I suggest.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have given further consideration to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan). I am prepared to add his Amendment, No. 117, 459 to the provisional list, but I must remind him and the House that it falls within the business that must be dealt with before 7.30 p.m. It is the last of the amendments to be disposed of by 7.30 p.m. Therefore, the hon. Member might be being more optimistic than is justified. Nevertheless, I shall add his amendment to the list.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I shall try to set an example in making short speeches. I accept straight away that the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) has put forward his case in a genuine manner, but I disagree with him on one point. To suggest that there are not 150 suitably qualified people to come forward in Scotland has never been part of the argument of any of us who criticise this whole exercise. I do not doubt that there are a great number of people who would make excellent Assembly Members in Scotland, and it is a very bad argument—I would not call it arrogant—to suggest that there might be a shortage of suitably qualified people.
I think that an Assembly of 71 members, as he suggested at one stage, is the worst of all possible worlds. Nothing would more highlight the rivalry between the Scottish Assembly and this House than having a one-to-one ratio. That would only heighten conflict.
I come to the heart of the matter—the question of exactly what the Assemblymen will do. What will be their role? The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns let the cat out of the bag when he said that there must be subsequent consequential changes for local government. The Lord President may say "Nonsense" sotto voce—
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)
I did not say a word.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Then that was another conversation. We all have to face the fact that a great number of people in Scotland believe that the Assembly will have to do something about changing local government. For the reasons that the hon. Member gave it would be impossible to hold the European elections, the Westminster elections, the Assembly elections and the regional, district and community council elections together. It is often said that the only thing that the Assembly has 460 to do is somehow to wave a magic wand and get rid of the regions.
There might be an argument for doing that, but whatever else it is it is not devolution of decision-making, and it will not bring government closer to the people. If the Lord President is concerned about bringing government in Scotland closer to the people he must stick with my point of view rather than come down in favour of an Edinburgh Assembly. The regions, warts and all, are very much closer to the people than an Assembly in Edinburgh would be.
That is where we come to the crux of the whole matter. Precisely what are these 150 Assemblymen to do? Certainly they cannot spend all their time legislating. What else can they do, other than meddle in local government?
It was stated at Question Time today by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown)—that any changes in, for example, the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (No. 2) Bill will be undertaken by the Assembly. This may be so. There are a number of other contentious matters that the Assembly could undertake. However, there will be 150 full-time Members sitting in Edinburgh for 37 weeks of each year, every year. They cannot engage themselves solely in tinkering with Scottish legislation and it is very unnatural that they should do so.
What will be their relation to local government? Are they to be part-time or full-time politicians? Will most of them have other jobs as well? Until we are clear on those matters it is no good selecting any number for the Assembly.
People who are in the position of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns really must state their ideas precisely when they talk about subsequent and consequent changes relating to local government. Here we come up against the controversy that is taking place in The Scotsman at present between Miss Isobel Lindsay of the Scottish National Party and James Anderson, the convener of the Labour Central Region. Of course there are very real issues here.
If one makes an attempt to get rid of the regions—an idea that is superficially popular—what would one replace them with? If they are replaced with all-purpose authorities, that means that we 461 will have 60 education authorities, 60 planning authorities, 60 housing authorities, and so on. How would one break up the functions of the districts and the regions? After all the midnight oil that has been burned in reforming local government once in the last decade, are we prepared to undertake it again?
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument as sympathetically as I can. He may wish to retain the regional authorities in the Lothian or Central Regions, but may I draw his attention to the situation on Tayside, where the city of Dundee is flanked by two rural counties? With the best will in the world, it is difficult to have common policies for education and school building programmes in areas such as Angus and Perth, which have individual characteristics, and in the city of Dundee, which has always been a self-governing local government unit. Would not a change of that kind be beneficial to all three areas on Tayside if the regions were abolished?
§ Mr. Dalyell
If the hon. Gentleman is right, those who hold high positions in his party should not suggest that by getting rid of the regions there would be a saving in expensive and highly paid local government personnel. If one follows through that argument, there will be three directors of education for Tayside rather than one. That is the logical conclusion.
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that within the regional authority structure there are innumerable deputy directors of education? There is a pyramid structure, some of which would be unnecessary if the process were simplified.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Any change that will lead to more expense appears to be a recipe for the proliferation of senior posts.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) said that this had nothing to do with the new clause. I disagree with him. One cannot sensibly discuss the number of Assemblymen without being clear about their role. The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns gave the game away yet again. Many of those who want the Assembly require an Assembly that will be deeply involved in local government. They can 462 have such an Assembly, but let us not pretend that this is devolution in the literal sense of the word. For all my shortcomings, I claim that I am the best devolutionist of all, because I want local authorities to be local and not Edinburgh-based.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrewshire, East)
Will the hon. Gentleman make clear that the powerful argument for having the present units in local government was perhaps most extensively set out in education than in any other area of activity? It is not possible, in modern circumstances, to provide a wide basis of education in Scotland unless we have units of government that are considerably larger than were the old councils. I have considerable sympathy with the objectives of the new clause, but it would be wrong to found that on the likelihood of demolishing the new local government structure—not because one does or does not want to do so but because it is simply impracticable.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The right hon. Lady was a member of the Royal Commission that discussed these matters endlessly. Had there been any better answer available to the right hon. Lady and her colleagues on that Commission, it would have occurred to them.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I should like to say a few words of welcome on the new clause and the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) did not set a good example when he instanced the case of local government. The House will agree that although there might be a case for changing local government, the matter should be considered on its merits and not in relation to any new plan for an Assembly or any other constitutional structure.
My hon. Friend was right to say that ideally the right figure should be introduced for the first election and not just for the later one. That may be the basis of some of the arguments that have been advanced against the new clause.
The most obvious argument relates to redundancy. I wonder how we would get on in this House if there were a written 463 constitution saying that our numbers should be reduced by 100 in the next election. We might then look at each other's health and voting record with greater interest than we do at present.
Another argument which could be used relates to consumer interests. This might invite confusion for constituents if they were coming along to constituency surgeries to consult their European or Westminster Members of Parliament, or their Assemblymen. If the boundaries were radically different from each other, this could be a problem in city areas where, even now some constituents find difficulty in knowing to which constituencies they belong.
The third argument is the wait-and-see argument. This is based on the view that it might be best to wait and see how the Assembly gets on before we make any decision about the right number of Members for the future. If we take the wait-and-see argument, my answer is that I am unaware of any Parliament which has voluntarily reduced its numbers in a substantial way. This is the kind of thing that everybody approves in principle to make the use of manpower more effective, but it is not the kind of thing that is done voluntarily. The Government constantly exhort industry to use its manpower more effectively. Therefore, I doubt whether the Scottish Assembly, if it is ever established, will voluntarily reduce its numbers as a matter of discretion.
A further argument is that these boundaries will cause problems when constituents visit Members' surgeries. Will a constituent have to consult three different Members—one for Europe, a second for Westminster and a third for the Assembly?
The hon. Member for West Lothian said that constitutional problems may will arise if the Assembly is established, and that matters may be made even more complex if every hon. Member at Westminster is to have one person covering his home area. This may cause great problems of demarcation and the line of responsibility may not at first be clear.
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that following the setting up of an Assembly there might be a reduction in the number of Members of Parliament 464 coming from Scotland to the Westminster Parliament? That would smash to smithereens all questions of boundaries, because the boundaries of the Westminster constituencies would have changed.
§ Mr. Taylor
The hon. Gentleman is right. This is an argument which the Minister has often used—that one could not hope in that situation to have an Assembly and to keep 71 Members of Parliament here. However, most of us accept the fact that it is not advisable to reduce the amount of Scottish influence at Westminster, although there will be complaints of that sort.
We must bear in mind the subject of consumer interests. We must remember that constituents will have problems in knowing to which areas they belong, who is speaking for them, and on what. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) will probably suggest that he receives letters addressed to him at the City Chamber and the Strathclyde regional headquarters. My wife constantly receives telephone calls from callers who expect me to be in the City Chamber for one day a week. People have been confused, and this will add to it.
Having said that, and appreciating that it is difficult to strike a balance, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns was right to say that if the proposal for 150 Assemblymen goes ahead without any arrangement for changing the situation, there will be a ridiculous situation involving over-government, with too many politicians chasing too little authority.
It means that in place of the jobs done by one, we shall under the Bill have three or four representatives. There will be either a parliamentary constituency with one Member of Parliament and two Assemblymen, or a constituency with one Member and three Assemblymen.
I doubt whether the Government will be taken seriously in telling British Rail, the British Steel Corporation and others to use their manpower more effectively if the Government are creating a situation of over-government.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns pointed to the ridiculous structure involving European Members, Westminster Members and Scottish Assemblymen. It will mean far too 465 much over-government. Those who possess common sense will agree that we should try to reduce the amount of over-government and to minimise the damage done by the Bill. I believe that we should give full support to the new clause. If the Government have a better idea for reducing the numbers, let them bring it forward. I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns that the Government's proposals are wrong. They will mean too many public representatives.
§ Mr. Dalyell
If the hon. Gentleman wants the numbers reduced, will he say how much he thinks that Scottish Assemblymen should be paid in relation to Westminster Members?
§ Mr. Taylor
I have made clear that I do not want the Bill to go through. If it comes into effect we must ensure that it does the minimum damage and we must reduce the areas of conflict.
I do not know what salary will be right for Assemblymen. If it is a full-time job it should be a full-time salary, but if they are full-time there will not be enough work for them to do. We shall run into a problem similar to that faced by regional councillors. It is difficult to fit in with an ordinary job the hard work involved in being a regional councillor, but if councillors were paid a full-time salary there would be the problem of their having too much time. This is one of the complexities of over-government.
We cannot allow the Bill to stand in its present form. If the Government have better proposals for reducing the numbers they can bring them forward in another place. In the meantime, we should vote for the new clause to indicate that the House and the people of Scotland would not be happy if the Scots had inflicted on them three or four Members in place of the present one, with European Members to come on top of the others.
Scotland could become the most over-governed and, consequently, the most overtaxed, country in the world. We must do all we can to avoid that.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I very much regret that we have not explored new methods of running a democratic Assembly, but this is not the time to start on that. In considering constitutional change, we should see how much 466 can be done at local level and work up from that. I rather regret the word "devolution". It is clear that the prospect for Scotland is one of gross and appalling over-government.
We shall have a Parliament, an Executive and a bureaucracy on the Continent, in London and in Edinburgh, in addition to the Scottish regions and districts. This House is the largest elected Assembly in the world and the House of Lords is by far the largest Assembly of any sort. It is clear that the size of these Chambers is not going to be reduced.
What should go? I still maintain that the regions should go. They should never have been set up. We should have one tier of local government, but this is not the moment to explore that proposition.
What else goes depends on one's view of the development of the Assembly. I believe that it will be wholly unstable. It cannot remain in the state in which we shall set it up. No Assembly would be able to go on without powers to tax. It will demand powers over the economy, nationalised industries and the public sector that are far greater than those included in the Bill.
If I did not think that, I would be persuaded by the cogent arguments of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), who said in Committee that this House would still devote a lot of time to matters that are not to be devolved. As I do not believe that the situation is stable and that more work will go to the Assembly, in the long run there will almost certainly be demands to reduce the number of Scottish Members here. That question, however, was debated in Committee and turned down.
An Assembly with 100 Members would involve constituencies of about 50,000. That is not wholly satisfactory, because that number is bigger than the average community. Even if reducing the size of constituencies will lead to the difficulties rehearsed by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) and others, I believe it to be desirable.
A House of 100 Members is not altogether satisfactory, either. It is too big to operate as a Committee, but will it be able to supply the necessary number of Members for an Administration? I have not yet heard a discussion about how big 467 the Scottish Administration will be. I am not referring only to the Executive. We know how Administrations expand. In this House there are more than 100 people dependent on Government patronage one way or the other. The Scots are not averse to patronage, so how many such people will there be in the Scottish Assembly?
In addition, it is not in the nature of Parliaments or Assemblies to refrain from legislation. One often hears complaints about the fact that there is too much legislation, but when a Member is lucky enough to draw a place in the Ballot he does not throw the chance aside; he scrounges around for a Bill to inflict upon the wretched public. The appetite for legislation appears to be insatiable, and that will extend to the Assembly.
The bureaucracy in Edinburgh, like all bureaucracies, will grow. I hope that the Assembly will be a part-time Parliament, but I do not have such optimistic illusions as to believe that it will work out like that.
I would not be altogether satisfied with an Assembly of 100 Members representing constituencies of 50,000. I must declare an interest, since if that were the average size of constituencies we would go back to Orkney and Shetland being represented by one Member. Very often we get Members who are capable of doing that, but we cannot rely on an endless flow of great Members for Orkney and Shetland. It would be more satisfactory for them to have a Member each. However, this is not, perhaps, a matter that should influence us decisively.
It would be upsetting for the Assembly, which will have enough of an upsetting time anyway, if it knew that at the end of its first session it was to be reduced by one-third. If the new clause is to be considered seriously, the initial numbers must be allowed to continue for longer than that. The Assembly will have enough trouble without one-third of its Members contemplating instant unemployment. In such circumstances, it could be difficult to get people to stand, though I believe that there is a pool of talent that will go to Edinburgh rather than come here.
468 I think that we should stick to the proposals in the Bill, though I agree that it will have to be looked at again soon and that there is much to be said for writing in a provision that we should have to look at it again.
I do not agree that we should reduce the numbers after four years. We need more experience of the way in which the Assembly is working, so that we can see whether 100 Members can supply an Administration and a sufficiently independent Opposition to make it work.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
We are discussing the size of the Assembly. The figures that have been mentioned are the existing 150, the Royal Commission's recommendation of 100 and the 71 suggested by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith).
This is not the occasion for a wide-ranging debate on the reorganisation of the structure of local government. That is for an entirely separate occasion.
The amendment is worth consideration. If we are guided by the Royal Commission's figure of 100, based on existing Westminster constituencies, that works out at 1.5 Members of the Assembly per constituency. It would be very difficult to organise that representation. I do not know how one can have half a Member in a constituency.
The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns was nearer the mark with his suggestion of 71. That would be an easier number in relation to parliamentary constituencies. He suggests that we should by all means have 150 members in the Assembly for the first Assembly elections but for the second and subsequent Assembly elections he is suggesting a figure of about 100.
That process would create one of the most difficult prospects that any electoral machine could possible contemplate. When we elect the Assembly, we are hoping to recruit the most suitable and able men and women fit to serve in this system of Scottish government, and we shall be expecting some of those candidates, when successful, to give up good jobs, promotion prospects and security of employment.
469 I believe that we shall find that extraordinarily difficult. I am basing my contention on the figure of 100, which the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns mentioned. It would entail redundancies through the reduction of 50 Members in the second and subsequent elections. No candidate will give up a good job and security of employment for four years if, at the end of that time, he can no longer be a candidate for the Assembly and will be in the wilderness.
None of us would like to be faced with the same situation, with a reduction of one-third in the size of this Parliament, knowing that it meant that one-third of the present number of Members would not be coming back, that they would be redundant, many of them having given up jobs and promotion only to find themselves in the wilderness.
I should hate to impose that suffering on Members of the Assembly, but that is exactly what would happen. It would be most inconsiderate to pass any amendment—not just the present new clause—which would create an impossible situation of that nature. We want to recruit all that is best, persuading people to give up their security of life to be elected to an Assembly for four years, yet they would be sacked on the spot, without the consent of the electorate, simply because the numbers were reduced at the second and subsequent elections.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear that contention in mind, because it is an important consideration. We found a similar situation when we reorganised local government. That was one of the main reasons why we could not attract some of the best men and women available—simply because there was no security of tenure, quite apart from the hazards of the popular poll.
I visualise that if the new clause were passed it would do the election of the Assembly incalculable harm. It would discourage some of the best men and women that we have in Scotland—there are in Scotland many excellent men and women who would make suitable Assembly Members—from taking part, simply because one-third of those elected would know that in four years they would be redundant and would lose the opportunity of continuing—in spite, perhaps, of the excellent service that they had given 470 to their constituents—as Members of the Scottish Assembly.
I hope that the Minister will bear in mind—it is one of the most important considerations of all—the human factor involved in the proposal before us. It is not in the interests of the new Assembly to operate in the fashion suggested. I do not think that it would be fair to the men and women who will come forward to serve Scotland. For those reasons, I ask the Government not to accept the new clause.
§ Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
The hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) is being pessimistic in believing that persons will not put themselves forward knowing that they will be redundant in four years. He has only to look at the Scottish National Party Bench to see that its 11 Members who worked on that assumption were quite happy to stand for election.
I am happy to support the new clause, which I regard as in many respects one of the most important new clauses that the House will have to consider. I say that because in this area the Government gave almost no forethought to what the appropriate size of the Assembly should be before deciding on the figure presently in the Bill.
When the Royal Commission on the Constitution recommended the creation of an Assembly, it indicated, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said, an Assembly of 100. When the Government's White Paper was published that figure had been increased to 138. When the Bill originally appeared before the House the figure had increased from 138 to 150. Like Topsy, the size of the Assembly has increased with every available opportunity. At no time have the Government attempted to justify what the appropriate size for an Assembly ought to be.
We know why the figure went up from the 100 recommended to 138 and to 150. The Government simply used an arithmetical calculation. They wanted to use the existing number of parliamentary constituencies, namely, 71, and they doubled that figure to 142, adding a few more simply to make allowance for very large constituencies. That might have been a useful technical achievement, but in terms 471 of convincing either this House or the public as a whole that an Assembly of 150 is either necessary or desirable, the Government have not begun to approach the argument. It is depressing that we have had such a short-sighted response from the Administration.
The only explanation that the Government gave to us in Committee was that it was necessary not to have excessive delay before the first election to the Assembly takes place. That might have had a certain superficial attraction at the time. However, not only has the implementation of the Bill been considerably delayed, the new clause refers only to the sccond and subsequent elections of the Assembly, so no Minister can today maintain that the new clause is undesirable or unsatisfactory for the reasons given on the previous occasion.
The election can go ahead. It is going to be necessary, anyway, to delineate new constituencies for the Assembly. Therefore, there is no reason why the House should not consider the appropriate number on its merits rather than on any spurious technical ground.
I was surprised at the speech of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), because, while he seemed to accept the principle that the proposed size of the Assembly was too large, he thought it wrong to put forward a figure of 100 and believed that at some future time consideration should be given to what the appropriate size should be. He must, surely, know that if it is not written into the Bill now there is not the remotest prospect of such a revision ever taking place.
Other hon. Members who have spoken are absolutely correct in saying that there is not the remotest prospect of the Assembly itself deciding to vote for its own reduction in size, for the reason given by the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie. One would be expecting the Members of the Assembly to pursue an extraordinary course of action of self-inflicted damage, which is extremely unlikely.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not necessarily think that the Assembly will be too big. I think that the total amount of government will be too big. I said that I rather favour reducing the Scottish representation 472 at Westminster and eventually—certainly in the long run—getting rid of the regions.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The right hon. Member might be right in putting forward these proposals, but to suggest that the overall burden of government does not relate to the size of the Assembly is misconceived and mistaken. The size of the Assembly has to be considered on two counts. First, one has to consider the job that the Assembly is to do.
Second, one has to consider, in relation to size, the general relations of the people with their elected representations in Scotland. On both those counts, I believe that the proposed size of 150 is far too large and cannot be justified on any of the facts. On no occasion has either the present Minister or the Minister of State who dealt with the previous amendment tried to justify the figure of 150.
There are at least four reasons which justify a reduction in the size of the Assembly from 150 to a much lower figure. I accept that there is no magic in the figure of 100, but what we are debating is the question whether 150 will be the size required or will be far in excess of the needs of the Assembly itself.
First, there is the point already made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), that it is ludicrous to suggest that the job which is at present being done by 71 Members of Parliament—indeed, half the job presently done by 71 Members of Parliament—will in future have to be done by 150 Members of the Scottish Assembly. It is not as though those 150 Members will simply be doing our job. As has been pointed out many times, Scottish Members of Parliament will still have at least 50 per cent. of their work load—on taxation, industry, employment and so on.
§ Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Does my hon. Friend agree also that travelling will be much easier for those who are doing that half-job in Scotland?
§ Mr. Rifkind
It may be true for someone as privileged as I am, living in Edinburgh, to go to the Assembly, but for the right hon. Member for Orkney and 473 Shetland and for Members coming from Caithness and Sutherland there will be considerable difficulties. It is far easier for me to go to London from Edinburgh than it is for me to go to many parts of Sutherland, because of the inadequate transport to and within that region. Therefore, with respect, I cannot altogether agree with my hon. Friend about that.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Will not two-fifths—if not more—of the Assemblymen have to keep two homes going, as we do, or have heavy hotel expenses?
§ Mr. Rifkind
That is right. On this occasion the hon. Gentleman's intervention is both relevant and perceptive, which is an unusual combination, if I may say so. That is a factor to be taken into account.
I do not believe that anyone has seriously suggested, in the House or in any other forum, that half the work of 71 Members of Parliament requires 150 Members in the Assembly. I regard that as a powerful argument.
There is also the not irrelevant consideration of cost. Whether we are in favour of devolution or against it, we all know that, especially at this time, cost is an important matter about which the public are rightly concerned. We must look into the cost of the Assembly and the relative cost according to its size. The new clause would reduce the size of the Assembly by fully one-third, and the consequent reduction in cost to the public Exchequer would be substantial.
We do not know what Members of the Assembly will receive in salary. Indeed, they will be in the same delightful position as we are in, being able to determine their own salary.
§ Mr. Rifkind
I hear what my hon. Friend says, but one can speculate as to the likely salary. Even on a modest scale, the salary of an Assemblyman is unlikely to be less than £3,000 or £4,000 a year. It would be extraordinary if it were less than that, and there is a substantial probability that it will be a good deal greater. Members of the Assembly may base their salary on the European Parliament rather than on the British House of Commons, in which case they 474 will be in a very privileged position. But even if they are modest we can expect a salary of at least £4,000 a year.
To reduce the Assembly from 150 to 100 Members would in itself produce a saving to the public as a whole of almost £250,000 every year. One must take into account in addition such factors as the secretarial expenses which, no doubt, will be made available to Members of the Assembly. There will also be the cost of travel—I come back to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen)—for Members from distant parts of Scotland, as well as the various accommodation expenses which one assumes will be provided.
One can reasonably suggest that in the terms of annual cost to the public the new clause could produce a saving of at least £500,000. That is a substantial amount, and I regard such a saving as a powerful argument in itself for reducing the size of the Assembly.
The third factor—this has not been mentioned so far—is the serious accommodation problems in the building which is to be used for the Assembly. From the outside, the Royal High School is a dramatic, classical and ideal building to house a legislature, but its internal facilities have been the subject of concern among many people who wonder whether the inside of the building is capable of accommodating an Assembly and all those who will be attached to it. That will certainly be a problem.
The problem will be far more serious with an Assembly as large as 150. Anyone who has been into what is to be the debating Chamber in the Royal High School will know that a meeting of the Assembly will be a very crowded occasion. Therefore, the accommodation problem is an additonal factor.
Those are, in a sense, important points, but I accept that they are not necessarily conclusive in themselves. The conclusive factor is the extent to which the Assembly needs 150 Members to do its job properly. Clearly, for the kind of devolution proposed by the Government, the question is whether an Assembly with its own Executive—not only Ministers but junior Ministers—could do its job adequately if 475 it were of a size smaller than that which the Government propose.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not in the least dissent from the hon. Gentleman's view that one crucial question is whether the Assembly can do its job properly with 150 or fewer Members, but there is another crucial point, and that is the size of the electorate and whether 100 Members will give an Assembly of a size suitable to represent the genuine communities in the more sparsely populated parts.
§ Mr. Rifkind
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I shall come to that later. One can draw some useful parallels from countries elsewhere in the world. I believe that the case in favour of a reduction to 100 Members, from the basic standpoint of whether the Assembly will be able to do its job properly, is overwhelming.
We do not know the size of the Executive, but, here again, we can make some fairly intelligent guesses because we know what the devolved subjects are. We can assume that there will be a Minister for Education, a Minister for Housing, a Minister for Health, a Minister for Local Government, probably a Minister for Transport and perhaps a Minister for Agriculture. Altogether, that is not more than some eight or nine Ministers, so let us assume a dozen at the most—a dozen Departments. In my view, the number will in the event be slightly smaller.
Let us assume that 12 Members of the Assembly will be members of the Executive. We must assume also that there will be a number of junior Ministers. Inevitably, these things happen, and, even if it is not intended now, the Assembly itself will probably evolve in that fashion. So let us assume a further half-dozen as junior Ministers, giving a total Executive of 18. To make it a round figure, I shall say 20.
Out of an Assembly of 100 under my hon. Friend's new clause, that will leave 80 Members as Back Benchers. On the assumption that the Executive has a majority in the Assembly, at the very least there will be 30 Back Benchers performing their role on the Executive's own side.
No one can seriously suggest that an Assembly with four-fifths of its membership as Back Benchers is not in a 476 position properly to fulfil all the legitimate requirements of its function and at the same time fulfil its commitments both to its own Members and to the electorate which it serves. To be fair, the Government have never seriously argued that an Assembly of 100 could not fulfil that role.
I come now to the point raised by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and the relative size of the electorate. Here again, we can make international comparisons. I give the example of the State of California, with 20 million people, which has a state legislature of 80 Members. In other words, it has only slightly more than half the number of Members proposed by the Government for Scotland, which has one-quarter of the population of California.
There is the example of the old Stormont Parliament, with much the same structure of government as is proposed for the Assembly, which had 52 Members. If 52 can be sufficient for that Parliament, I do not see how anyone can seriously argue that 100 would somehow be inadequate for the Scottish Assembly.
Perhaps the most remarkable comparisons are seen when we turn elsewhere in the world and consider what is done in independent States, especially those which have a single Parliament or legislature substantially smaller than the proposed Scottish Assembly. I suggest that this is a pretty conclusive argument. For example, Iceland has a Parliament of 60 Members. Israel has a Parliament of 120. Most significant of all, perhaps, is the Netherlands. Without any devolved legislature and only a single Parliament to fulfil its functions as a legislature, the Netherlands has 150 Members—exactly what the Government propose for Scotland although Scotland has a smaller population and the Assembly will have only a limited area of responsibility.
Therefore, whether one looks at the domestic situation or at international comparisons, one can find no justification for the Government's figure proposed in the Bill. So far as I am aware, there is no provincial legislature in Australia with the size of Assembly proposed for Scotland.
If other arguments had been advanced, we could have listened to them and decided whether they were relevant and 477 weighty, but none has been forthcoming in previous debates.
I come to my final point. I am glad that the Minister of State is now in the Chamber as I wish to refer to some remarks that he made in Committee. I note that the hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I accept that he has been in the Chamber for a good part of the debate. Normally, I do not like to respond to sedentary interruptions, but I am about to quote the hon. Gentleman and, therefore, I am pleased that he has returned to the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman seems to be extremely touchy.
When the House of Commons previously considered this matter in Committee the Minister of State, in reply, commented on my suggestion of an Assembly of only 71 Members. It is an important quotation as it is relevant to that which we are now discussing. The hon. Gentleman gave various reasons that led him to consider that an Assembly of 71 Members would be too small. He then said:It is principally for that reason that we feel that 71 is too few. It does not follow that double that number—142—is right. There is the practical problem, if we wish to hold an early election, of finding any other basis for the number than the existing parliamentary constituencies.The hon. Gentleman, following an intervention from the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) came to the important point. He said:If hon. Members can think of any practical method whereby we can create an Assembly sufficiently large to carry out its responsibilities but perhaps smaller—I am not saying by how much—we shall carefully examine it."—Official Report, 25th January 1977; Vol. 924, c. 1443–4.]That is exactly what my hon. Friend and many of us have tried to do. On that occasion the only objection that the Minister of State brought before the Committee was the need to have an early election and the need not to cause delay by introducing a figure not related to existing parliamentary constituencies. In fact, the new clause relates to the position after the first elections to the Assembly. We know that at that stage the Boundary Commission will, in any event, have to redraw the parliamentary map for Scotland so as to create Assembly constituencies. That duty is written into the Bill. There is no question of any delay 478 being created by the adoption of the new clause.
In Committee the Minister accepted that there was a powerful case for a smaller Assembly. He accepted that there was no automatic reason for double the number of parliamentary constituencies being the appropriate figure. Indeed, he asked hon. Members to provide a "practical" alternative.
My hon. Friend has provided just such an alternative, unless the Government have been able to concoct any new arguments that they were not able to adduce on the previous occasion. I hope that we shall not merely have a blank response from the Minister. This is a constructive proposal of major importance. All the arguments that have been used so far point to a smaller Assembly rather than the size proposed by the Government. I hope that when the Minister replies he will be able to make a response that is encouraging and not depressing.
§ Mr. James Lamond
The hon. Members for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) and Edinburgh, Pent-lands (Mr. Rifkind) have argued persuasively about the number of Members who should be in the Assembly following the first election. I am tempted to support them, but there is the difficulty that has been raised by other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Pentlands quoted a remark of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, when he said that if a "practical" alternative were suggested it would be considered. That is where the difficulty lies.
I share the view of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) that in future Scotland will be very much over-governed. Before I came to the House—perhaps this explains my interest in the Bill—I was a member of the council in Aberdeen. It was an all-purpose authority. At that time there were two layers of government inflicted upon the citizens of Aberdeen. There was the local council and the Westminster Parliament. I venture to suggest that the citizens were well satisfied with that arrangement. Certainly, a number of the electors voted against my party from time to time, but, in the main, they kept it in power. Not too often did they vote against it. We now find that in Aberdeen there is the community council, the 479 district council and the regional council with its headquarters in Aberdeen. It is a substantial bureaucracy.
There will be the Assembly, and there will continue to be two Westminster Members returned from Aberdeen; at least two Members will be returned to this place in future. In addition, there is the European Parliament. As yet, these layers of government have managed only to confuse the people of Aberdeen.
§ Mr. Harry Gourlay (Kirkcaldy)
Having listened to what my hon. Friend has said in the past few minutes I am not surprised that he is opposing the Bill. It seems that he does not understand the basis on which the Bill is founded. The number of authorities he has mentioned is no greater than the number that obtained prior to reorganisation. We had the county council and the city of Aberdeen council. The community council, which is purely an advisory body, is the only additional layer of government. The Assembly will take the place of this Chamber in dealing with Scottish legislation. I hope that my hon. Friend will turn to that point.
§ Mr. Lamond
It may be that I understand what my hon. Friend is attempting to say—namely, that there will he no more Scottish legislation proposed in this place. However, there will be a division of authority among a greater number of layers of government. My hon. Friend said that there was a county council and a city of Aberdeen council when the organisation of local government was different in different parts of Scotland. The city councils were all-purpose authorities, so there were no representatives on the county councils. The situation was exactly as I have described. There were two layers of government, the city of Aberdeen council and the Westminster Parliament.
I share the view of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, but I do not think that it has any relevance to the clause. Even if we reduce the number of Members at the Assembly, the 480 Assembly layer of government will still be there. Scotland will be no less over-governed merely because there are fewer Members at the Assembly. The additional layers of government will still lie heavy upon the shoulders of the citizens of Aberdeen and other citizens of Scotland. That argument does not sway me to support the clause.
I listened carefully to all the arguments of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands. The hon. Gentleman said that his first three arguments were not crucial. His final argument was argued persuasively and I accept most of what he said. His other arguments, that related, for example, to accommodation and cost, are not really relevant. If I were satisfied that the Assembly should have 250 Members, the fact that it would cost a little more would not in any way dissuade me from supporting such an Assembly.
The hon. Gentleman referred to an extra £500,000. Standing on its own, that is a great deal of money, but we must consider it in terms of the total budget that is to be allocated by the Assembly to various functions. When that sum is considered in that light it is not so serious, especially if it is to mean that we get the number right and that we do not try to skimp the Assembly.
The argument that we might not be able to find sufficient people to fill the places available in the Assembly is quite spurious. If there were any shortage of people coming forward, it would not be felt at Assembly level. There will be plenty of people willing to stand for the Assembly under the present rules, which will allow for 150 Members to be elected. They will continue at that level in future. There will be no shortage of candidates. There may be a shortage further down if good people are removed. In Aberdeen, even at the level of community councils, there would appear to be no shortage of candidates, but there is a shortage of electors.
I should like to relate the extraordinary case of a good friend of mine—not a member of the Labour Party—who was one of three candidates for a seat on one of the community councils in Aberdeen. His name is George Kindness. He was elected to his seat on the community council by the solitary vote cast in the 481 election. In other words, of three candidates, one was elected. It did not have to be George. He was not aware that he could vote for himself. Neither of the other two candidates appeared to be aware that they could have voted for themselves either. This is an absolutely genuine case certified by the returning officer after a properly conducted election at which clerks were available to count the votes and so on. One vote was cast for my friend and he was duly elected.
§ Mr. Lamond
No. As a matter of fact, he was married, and it was not his wife who voted for him. She obviously abstained.
When we get such an extraordinary situation as that we begin to realise just how over-governed Scotland is. I do not think that there will be any shortage of candidates provided that the size of the Assembly remains at 150 Members.
Reference was made to the difficulties involved if we start with 150 Members and reduce that number to 100 after four years. There are practical difficulties which cannot be overcome. The squabbling and fighting among the Members would be tremendous from the very day that the Assembly began its work. If we start with 71 Members and, after the first election, increase that number to 100, I think that would be more likely to succeed, but, as the Minister explained earlier, the Government regard 71 Members as too small a number. Indeed, the very fact that the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns has selected 100 as being suitable shows that he also thinks that 71 is too small a number. To start with 71 Members would be wrong. It would get the Assembly off on the wrong foot. Unfortunately, from a practical point of view, if finally we want to arrive at 100 Members, it is the only way to do it.
In view of the practical difficulties that would be set for the Assembly if it were to have this substantial reduction in numbers after four years, I cannot support the new clause, although it has been argued extremely persuasively.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I want to look at this matter, as did the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond). in a practical way.
482 I should like to be able to support my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) who introduced the new clause. I do not intend to vote against the clause, but I do not feel that I can support it. If, instead of suggesting that the number of Assemblymen should be reduced to 100, he had suggested that it should be reduced to zero, I should have been with him all the way. Unfortunately, he did not go that far. Therefore, I cannot go with him all the way.
I agree with what my hon. Friend said about the extra costs involved. A great deal of money will be wasted. That is one of the reasons why I am completely opposed to an Assembly.
§ Mr. Gourlay
Surely the hon. Gentleman cannot argue that he is prepared not to support changing our democracy on the basis of cost. I am sure that when we decided that we had to fight Hitler to protect democracy no one in this country ever questioned the cost. That is surely a fallacious argument.
§ Mr. Galbraith
No, but it is one matter which has to be taken into account. I object to a Scottish Assembly, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows, because I am convinced that it will be used by the Scottish National Party as a method of achieving separation. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Gourlay) shakes his head. If he thinks about it, I do not see how he can convince himself that we can have an Assembly in Edinburgh and a Parliament at Westminster and continue the unity of the United Kingdom.
Despite the saving of money which would be achieved if we reduced the size of the Assembly from 150 Member to 100 Members, I am not sure that that marginal saving would be worth while or, indeed, beneficial.
At the moment, we have 71 Scottish Members in the Scottish Grand Committee. I now put on a hat which I took off a very long time ago. I speak as a former Scottish Unionist Whip. Of those 71 Members, only 16 represent the official Opposition. The fact that there are only 16 Opposition Members naturally places a considerable burden on them when it comes to manning Committees. That burden is felt by the Opposition in a way which does not affect the Government side.
483 If the Assembly is fixed at 100 Members, we can expect the Opposition's representation to go up from 16 Members to about 22 or 23 Members, but if the figure of 150 is adhered to, and assuming there is no change in the voting pattern, there would be 32 Opposition Members in the Assembly. That would, of course, make the manning of Committees much easier than it is now. That practical consideration should not be ignored, particularly if we do not want a full-time Assembly. I think that it will be better, if we are to have an Assembly, that it be not full-time. It should be relatively large so as to leave room for a relatively large Opposition from which different Committees can be selected.
The larger rather than the smaller Assembly will also mean that the constituencies will be smaller. Therefore, the Members will more directly represent the wishes and views of the voters. For example, there are 14 seats in Glasgow today. Two of those seats are represented by Conservative Opposition Members—
§ Mr. Galbraith
—my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and myself. This little personal plug does not do any harm. If there were only one seat in Glasgow, I am afraid that neither my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart, despite his great abilities, nor myself would be here. In those circumstances the Opposition would be unrepresented. I think everybody recognises that if there were only one Member for Glasgow, he would not be a Member from the Conservative Party. Is the Minister of State following me? I see him scowling. One never knows what his scowls mean.
§ The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)
I was thinking that there would be an easy way out of the difficulty. It would be for the Conservative Party to try to do a little better with the Scottish electorate.
§ Mr. Galbraith
We shall try to do better, but we must take the situation as it is now.
Two of the 14 seats are represented by Conservative Members of Parliament. If Glasgow were to have only one seat, both 484 the Minister and I know that it would not be held by a Conseravtive Member of Parliament. Therefore, a large number of Conservatives residing in Glasgow would not be represented in this House.
§ Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)
I think that my hon. Friend's arithmetic is very chancy. The Bill refers to having either 14 or 28 Members for Glasgow. The idea of only one, which he is talking about, is surely a figment of his own imagination.
§ Mr. Galbraith
My hon. Friend is not quite right. I was starting with one, but going on to 14 and eventually to 28 Members. As I was about to say, before I was interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour), if the number of seats in Glasgow were doubled and there were 28 instead of the 14 that we have now, I reckon that the number of Conservative Members of Parliament representing Glasgow seats would increase from two to eight or nine, because the areas of the seats would be smaller and they would, therefore, represent more closely the Conservatives who lived there.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
Is not the logic of what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) is saying that if he wants the Conservatives to be properly represented—which I am sure is an admirable wish—he should advocate electoral reform?
§ Mr. Galbraith
I knew that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) was going to say that. He wants PR, but I want one Member, one seat.
There are disadvantages in reducing the Assembly from 150 to 100 Members. A reduction would mean that the seats would be larger whereas with 150 Members they would be smaller. The smaller the seat the more likely is the Member able to represent the views of constituents. What I am trying to say despite interruption is that on the grounds of being more democratic a larger Assembly is better than a smaller Assembly and that a larger Assembly would make the manning of Committees easier.
A larger Assembly is better than a smaller Assembly and I should, therefore, be chary of reducing the number of Assemblymen to below 150—unless we were to reduce it to none at all. I believe that that would be the best solution. I hope that the House will agree with me 485 when we vote on the Third Reading next week.
§ Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)
I shall not follow the arithmetic of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith). He has made a study of the problem and speaks from experience. However, he has not followed his logic through. I accept that he does not believe in an Assembly at all, but surely it is better to have one of 100 Members than of 150 Members. There is a strong case for voting for the new clause.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Like me, my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) has been a Scottish Conservative Whip. Does he not recognise the difficulties involved in manning Committees when there are only a few Opposition Members? I urge my hon. Friend to look at that from a practical point of view.
§ Mr. Monro
I do not want too many Committees.
The Minister should say how many Assemblymen he would have chosen if there had been no constraints by the Boundary Commission. If he is free to say that we should have X number of seats, what does he think is the ideal number? He has plucked out of the sky the figure of 150 because it is convenient and fits in with the present constituency boundaries and because of the difficulties of changing those boundaries in a reasonable time.
It is a major mistake to start off with the wrong number of Members of the Assembly. It is important that the Minister should explain why the figure of 150 is right, and follow up what the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) said about what the Assemblymen will do. This is crucial.
I am in favour of devolution but not of the way in which the Government propose to implement it. I want to know what the Minister envisages will be in the programme for the Assembly and what the Members of it will do in the first stages. The only disagreement I have with my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) is that I think that it would be wrong to start out with 150 Members and then to reduce the number to 100. I should like to see 100 Members at the 486 beginning. Where there is a will, there is a way. If this House and the House of Lords consider that 100 is the right number, I am sure that this could be arranged, if the spirit is willing.
There are many unknown factors, not the least of which is in Schedule 1. This sets out the means by which Scotland will be divided into Assembly constituencies and is relevant to this argument. Under Schedule 1 Part II paragraph 11, the Boundary Commission is given some licence to depart from the strict application of the population basis for the size of an Assembly constituency. I should like to know the Minister's thinking on this. It would be wrong for the constituencies to be based solely upon population and for them to be weighted heavily towards those with large populations. Under paragraph 11 the Boundary Commission can depart from thisif special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency, appear to them to render the departure reasonable".That allows the Commission to depart from the strict population base. We want to know something about that.
In an earlier debate I raised this matter in relation to Inverness, which is the largest constituency and has a large population. Other large constituencies have small populations. My own constituency is large and has a large population. It is second only to Inverness in size and population. Yet, under the present formula, I do not think that my constituency would qualify for a third Member. It might if the calculation were based geographically.
It would be wiser to stick to the smaller-sized Assembly, despite the problems of population.
§ Mr. Galbraith
My hon. Friend will recognise that we are having a debate in this Chamber, and although there are over 600 Members, not many of them are here. We do not need many Members of an Assembly. If the new Assembly had the same proportion of Members as the House of Commons, there would be only two Members present.
§ Mr. Monro
But there would be quality. I do not accept that arithmetical formula. If the Assembly had less to 487 do than we, there would be many more Members available to come to the Chamber and listen to the debate.
There is another issue which is worth thinking about. I do not envisage a substantial change in the regional and district set-up. The present situation will be with us for a long time. I suppose that most hon. Members are in touch with their regional and district authorities at least daily, by telephone or letter. If the poor Executives are to face daily contact with their Assemblymen as well, I wonder when they will get some work done.
There is a case for fewer Assemblymen rather than more. Surely the answer is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) suggested, that the Minister would gladly change the number of Assemblymen if he could see the right formula, and that we should take the 71 constituencies and add the geographical and population weighting. That would bring us up to 85 or 90, not far from the 100 that the Royal Commission proposed. Our acceptance of the new clause would strongly indicate that we want fewer Assemblymen. The details can then be worked out in another place, if the Minister accepts this very reasonable proposal.
We sincerely believe that the figure of 100 is about right, and we must find ways of achieving it. Surely, we could go to the 71 plus weighting with no great difficulty. If it turned out in the years ahead to be wrong, it would be easier to increase the number than to reduce it. Let us start small and, if necessary, enlarge, but for goodness' sake let us not start too large and think that in some mystical way we can ever reduce the number.
§ Sir John Gilmour
I wish to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) has just said. As Ministers know, I am dead against the Assembly's consisting of more than 71 Members. The Bill proposes 150 and Scotland already has 71 Members here. Next year we are to elect eight Members to the European Parliament. We shall then have 229 representatives in the round in Scotland, which is 3¼ Members for every constituency. I do not believe that we can tell the country "We are asking you to bring yourselves up to 488 date" and at the same time say "It is necessary to have 3¼ Members to do what one Member is doing now."
I agree that in seeking to find the right number for Members we should take good account of what the Royal Commission said. The figure of 100 that my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) has proposed is a useful figure, because it does not simply double up the present figure but shows that something is being done to try to equate the needs of the different parts of Scotland for representation.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who spoke of Scotland's being over-governed, is clearly worried that Orkney and Shetland each need a Member in the Assembly. That is arguable. He said at the same time that he believed the size of Scottish representation in this House should be reduced. Presumably that would mean that for representation here Orkney and Shetland would have to be combined with Caithness and Sutherland or the Outer Hebrides, which I do not believe is a practical proposition.
The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) asked "What will the Assembly do? When will it sit?" I consulted my diary during the debate. I think that during the past parliamentary year we have sat for 30 or 31 weeks. If we devolve a proportion of the business normally done in this House to an Assembly in Edinburgh, will it sit for the same length of time, for 30 or 31 weeks a year and a five-day week?
The trouble is that the more Members the Assembly has, the more there will be a cry to spend more money, to do more this and that. Therefore, the House would be well advised to consider the practicalities of what an Assembly will do. Will it sit five days a week for 31 weeks, for only 20 weeks, or what? Unless we have these questions in mind, how can we decide how many Members are needed to do the job?
§ Mr. Dalyell
Does it not strike the hon. Gentleman as odd that he should be asking these questions on the 35th day of the deliberations in this House?
§ Sir J. Gilmour
I did not vote against Second Reading, because I thought that the Bill should be discussed, but I have 489 made no pretence about my feelings ever since it was published. I shall not vote for Third Reading if it will establish an Assembly of 150 Members, which will mean 3¼ people to do what one person does now. That would be nonsense and should be resisted.
I had some sympathy with the gentleman in the Gallery who addressed us when my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) was speaking. As the gentleman in the Gallery told us, my hon. Friend was undoubtedly talking nonsense in many of the things he said. My hon. Friend was saying "You must have more Members in order to fill up your Committees." But it does not matter if there are 20, 70, 150 or 300 Members of the Assembly; the proportion of the parties is likely to be the same, irrespective of the numbers.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Surely my hon. Friend will recognise that it is much easier to man Committees if one has 32 Members to choose from instead of 16. It is self-evident.
§ Sir J. Gilmour
That is a fallacy. One has only to alter the size of the Committee, which is exactly what I managed to do with the Scottish Standing Committee. I had it reduced from 32 to 16 four or five years ago, because we always had an enormous Committee, quite unnecessarily. There is no sense in my hon. Friend's argument. My sympathy still lies with the gentleman in the Gallery.
How do we resolve this matter? The suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries in supporting the new clause is right. It would be difficult to reduce the size. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), who said that there must be security of tenure for people who were to be Members of an Assembly. I was under the impression that we submitted ourselves for election and did not think that we had security of tenure. The hon. Gentleman has probably had such security of tenure that he thinks it should be built into the Bill. I do not agree. The likelihood is that an Assembly of 150 Members will be so bored after the first four years that 50 per cent. of them will not seek to stand again.
Because it is difficult to set up an Assembly and then reduce its size, I urge in all seriousness that the new clause, or 490 its spirit, should be accepted by the Government. If necessary, we could have an Assembly for two years to begin with. The Bill could still be altered so that the first Assembly ran for only two years with 71 Members, and during those two years one could realign the constituency boundaries and produce an Assembly of about 100 Members. I believe that most people would find that much more acceptable. For that reason, I very much hope that the clause will be accepted.
§ Mr. Sproat
I rise with particular pleasure to support my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), because this must be the only time he and I have agreed so substantially during the entire Committee and Report stages. I supported him in an intervention, but I shall do substantially better tonight. This is perhaps also the only time I have not agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow. Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith).
I support the new clause because I think that the Government's proposition is self-evident rubbish. What they propose is that twice the number of Members are needed to do half the work. That must be wrong. It could be proved that to have the same numbers to do half the work would also be wrong. Perhaps half the number to do half the work would still be too many. Certainly, twice the number of Assemblymen to do half the work must be wrong.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Does not my hon. Friend realise that if we set up an Assembly at all it does not matter what it has to do, and that even if it has practically nothing to do it must still be a certain size? Otherwise, one cannot man committees, one cannot have quorums and so on. There is this practical consideration. This is what is wrong with the whole idea of an Assembly. There should not be an Assembly at all, but if we are to have one let us have one of a reasonable size.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Sproat
I take my hon. Friend's point. But the fact is that if the province of Ontario in Canada, with a population larger than that of Scotland, can manage with just over 100 Members in its Assembly, I have no doubt that Scotland can manage with 100 or fewer, unhappy as I am to disagree with my hon. Friend, 491 who has done such a splendid job in destroying the Bill in other areas.
The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) said that he would be against the number of 71 Members because that would mean one Assemblyman for every Member of Parliament and this would cause conflict of a most obvious nature. I agree that it would. But I do not think that having 100 Members or 150 Members will cause any less difficulty. Conflict will arise in any event. There will be resentment between Westminster and the Assembly if the Bill is passed.
The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Aidrie (Mr. Dempsey) said that we must think of those poor, erstwhile Assemblymen who would lose their jobs when the Assembly was reduced from 150 to 50. I suggest that we cannot base the British constitution on the putative sentiments of gentlemen who knew very well the problems involved when they took on the job. There may be good arguments in favour of having 150 Members, but the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie were not among them. There must be many hon. Members who are doubtful about holding on to their seats at the next General Election. That has not stopped them from coming here. I do not see why any Assemblyman should be protected any more than we are.
The Government owe it to the House to spell out why 150 should be the number. On previous occasions the Minister of State has said that the number was fixed for administrative convenience and that the number of 150 was chosen because it was the only way the Government could get within the constrictions of the Boundary Commission. Just as the putative sentiments of would-be Assemblymen cannot be a reason for changing the British constitution in a specific way, similarly administrative convenience cannot be a reason for changing the constitution in a specific way. We shall not accept arguments such as those advanced previously by the Minister of State in supporting the figure of 150.
§ Mr. Dalyell
May I put a parallel consideration to the hon. Member? Can he imagine what the atmosphere in this House would be like if a Parliament of 635 Members were elected and every one 492 of us knew that there would be only 400 Members during the next Parliament? It would not be a very happy Parliament.
§ Mr. Sproat
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). We are not sent into this world or to Parliament to be made into happy people. There is a Labour candidate in Aberdeen who is trying to take my constituency away from me. I do not lose a minute's sleep over that and I do not think that I would lose any sleep if I were to be told that the number of Members in the House was to be reduced.
The central argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns, stepping tentatively for the first time on to ground which I, among others, have already occupied, was that the whole Scottish Assembly exercise would be an exercise in over-government, involving increased bureaucracy and cost. For me, the central reason for opposing the Bill is the risk that it poses for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But there are also subsidiary reasons for oppossing the Bill, and any way in which we can reduce the number of Assemblymen, the number of bureaucrats and the powers of intervention, muddle and interference pleases me.
The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) made a valuable contribution when he cited the specific example of Aberdeen, which, when he was its distinguished Lord Provost, had only two levels of government to worry about—Westminster and the body over which he presided. Now there are the district council, the regional council, the community council, the Scottish Assembly, Westminster, the European Parliament and so on. There will certainly be over-government. The new clause seeks to diminish that, and I therefore support it. The hon. Member for Oldham, East referred to the case of the gentleman who was elected to the community council by one vote. That is absolutely ludicrous and proves that the people of Scotland have already had enough of over-government. 493 They have demonstrated, before we reach the referendum, that they are fed up with these extra layers of government.
I agree that reducing the size of a layer does not rid us of a layer. Nevertheless, any diminution of folly is to be welcomed. If for no other reason than that, I support the new clause. The substantial argument is that Scotland will be the most over-governed country in the world if the Assembly comes about. No doubt it will be the most over-taxed country in the world, too, to pay for the over-government. Even if reducing an absurdity by one-third still leaves us with an absurdity, it is a diminution of folly. On that slender ground, I gladly support the new clause.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)
I hope to persuade the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) to withdraw the new clause. I accept at once that the hon. Member, who is one of the most sincere Members in the House, has put forward the new clause with sincere intent. I hope to prove to the House that there would be dangers and difficulties in accepting the new clause.
Before dealing with that issue, I wish to reply to three general arguments which have been put forward, particularly by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), by my own Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour), and by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat). They all put the proposition that by reducing the number of Members, as is proposed in the new clause, we would not have the difficulty of starting big and then having to reduce the numbers. They said that it is better to start small and to increase the numbers if the need arises.
This new clause is not about the first elections to the Assembly. It is about what happens after the first elections. We are not talking about how the Assembly will begin. The House has already decided that. I hope that when the hon. Member for Fife, East is considering his attitude to the Third Reading, he will bear in mind that his comments did not relate to the new clause since it does not deal with the first elections. I hope that there is no misunderstanding here.
494 The second general point which has been raised concerns over-government. In a sense, it does not matter, in terms of the argument of over-government, whether there are 200 Members of the Assembly, 100 Members, 30 Members or 500 Members. The Assembly is a legislative organisation and will be part of the machinery of government. It makes no difference in terms of over-government or under-government. Nor is it a good reason for supporting New Clause 8.
The final general point raised in the debate was in the constant reference to the Royal Commission's suggestion that a 100-Member Assembly would be about the right size. The evidence and the reasons given for that view by the Royal Commission are worth reading. It was talking about a 100-Member Assembly based on the single transferable vote system and on grouping a number of constituencies which were geographically widely scattered.
It is, therefore, not correct to give the impression that the suggestion put forward by the Royal Commission was a straight proposal for a 100-Member Assembly. That is not the case. Its suggestion was, I repeat, for a 100-Member Assembly based on the STV system and on grouping a number of constituencies in the more remote areas of Scotland, therefore having this collection of constituencies to produce something like 100 Members.
The House has decided that we ought not to have a system of proportional representation. It has made its view clear on how the elections to the Assembly should take place. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) seems to doubt the view of the Royal Commission.
§ Mr. Rifkind
I am not doubting the Royal Commission's view, but the hon. Gentleman should not be putting forward this irrelevant argument. The Royal Commission took the view that an Assembly of 100 Members was quite sufficient to do all the work required of it. The kind of Assembly proposed by the Royal Commission is close to the Assembly proposed by the Government. Whatever the form of election that might be applied, the hon. Gentleman can easily bring forward proposals for an Assembly 495 of the size proposed by the Royal Commission.
§ Mr. Ewing
Despite those "Hear, hears", it is not as simple as that. The Royal Commission clearly qualified the recommendation for a 100-Member Assembly by saying that it would be based on the STV system and would be related also to the grouping of a number of constituencies. If the hon. Gentleman says that that is simple, that is his point of view and he is entitled to it.
§ Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)
Why does the method of election make any difference to the appropriate size?
§ Mr. Ewing
Unfortunately from the point of view of the House, the hon. Gentleman has not been here throughout the debate and he did not hear the support put forward for a 100-Member Assembly which was based only on a bold statement that the Royal Commission had recommended a 100-Member Assembly. All I am doing, for the benefit of the House, is bringing out the additional view of the Royal Commission that such a size of Assembly would be based on the STV system. That is entirely different from pretending to the House that a 100-Member Assembly was based on the first-past-the-post system. That is not the case.
§ Mr. Brittan
I may have been absent from the Chamber for a short period, but the hon. Gentleman was present when I asked the question and he has not answered it. Why does a different method of election have any effect on the best size of the Assembly?
§ Mr. Ewing
I have already answered the question. I will go through the answer again. The case for having a 100-Member Assembly was simply that the Royal Commission had said that we should have it. But, reading the Royal Commission's report, one finds that it actually said that a 100-Member Assembly would be based on the STV system and that there would be a number of constituencies grouped in such a way as to produce 100 Members. That is all I am saying. That may or may not make any difference to the system 496 of election, but it certainly makes a difference to an argument about whether we should have 100 or 150 Members in the Assembly.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Brittan
We seem to be at cross purposes. The Royal Commission said two things—what the size of the Assembly should be and how it should be elected. If we are trying to say that the recommendation as to the size of the Assembly ought not to be followed because a different method of election is here being proposed, or that the recommendation as to the size of the Assembly is weakened because here is a different method of election, some relationship must be established between the recommendation as to the size and the recommendation as to the method of election. If the method of election does not have, or ought not to have, any impact on size, the recommendation as to size is just as valid even though the method of election is different.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman has tried to base his argument on what the Royal Commission said. I refer him to what it said. In paragraph 791, it said:Scotland, for example, now has 71 Members of Parliament. If this number were to be unchanged, and if for the purposes of election to a Scottish assembly the existing constituencies were to be combined in pairs, each new constituency so formed returning four members, the assembly would have a total of 142 members. If this number were considered to be too large …It went on to consider that the Assembly might have a total of 100 or 120 Members. Having considered an Assembly of 142 Members—close to the figure that the Government propose—the Royal Commission came down to 100. It concluded that 142 would be far too large. Yet the Government want the membership to be eight more than that.
§ Mr. Ewing
It is an astonishing argument that the fact that a proposal in the Royal Commission's report was based on the STV system should be disregarded because it seems to meet the convenience 497 of certain hon. Members—although not the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns, who did not make much of the point. But the Royal Commission made a good deal of it, and it is astonishing that we should be asked to disregard its argument now. For the benefit of the House, and in fairness to the Royal Commission, it is important that we should get on the record exactly what it said. Its proposal for a 100-Member Assembly was, whether the hon. Member for Pent-lands likes it or not, directly related to proportional representation and to the grouping of constituencies. That is the position.
The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns proposes that the Boundary Commission should be instructed to make a report to the Secretary of State within one year of the first elections. It is, frankly, not possible for the Boundary Commission within one year after the Assembly elections to draw up 100 Assembly constituencies, and to make all the allowances and arrangements for public objections, consultations and the rest which always go with the redrawing of boundaries, whether they be at regional level, district council level, parliamentary level or Assembly level. It could not be done.
Secondly, having an Assembly based on 100 constituencies would be, for the first time, a departure from the normal procedure in the United Kingdom of relating our electoral areas at both local and national level to parliamentary boundaries. Our district and regional council electoral areas, which are at present the subject of a Boundary Commission exercise, are related to parliamentary boundaries. The Boundary Commission in Scotland has just announced that it is now beginning the task of redrawing parliamentary boundaries there.
Frankly, therefore, from the practical point of view, if we sought to impose yet another burden on the Boundary Commission by requiring it to report back to the Secretary of State within a year, we should be giving it an impossible task. It just could not be done. Even if it were done, the 100 Assembly constituencies would not be related to the parliamentary boundaries of the existing 71 Scottish constituencies.
This has certain implications, and I do not speak now simply for the Labour 498 Party. I am sure that all parties are organised on a constituency basis. Certainly the Labour Party is organised on a constituency, regional and district party basis. I suspect that all the political parties in Scotland are organised in the same way and that the principal organisation is related to the constituency unit.
It would present impossible problems for the party machines to set up two separate organisations, one related to the structure of parliamentary constituencies, and to districts and regions within those parliamentary constituencies, and the other related entirely to Assembly constituencies. For that reason again, I hope that I shall be able to persuade the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns not to press the matter to a Division.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond), in an intervention, suggested that there was a possibility that at some time in the future the number of Members coming to this House from Scottish constituencies might be reduced. If that were to happen—I do not pronounce on it at the moment because it is not part of our debate—it would automatically of itself reduce the size of the Assembly. There are no ifs, buts or doubts about it at all. Given the decision to have the parliamentary constituency as the basis for election to the Assembly, if the number of parliamentary constituencies were to be reduced it would automatically reduce the size of the Assembly. I hope that that is clearly understood.
The hon. Member for Pentlands also said that the Government had not sought to justify the increase from the original number of 138 to—[Interruption.] Kilbrandon is not the Government, I am delighted to say, and I do not speak for Kilbrandon. The hon. Member for Pentlands was implying that the Government had not sought to justify the figure of 150 which has been so widely talked of during the debate.
§ Mr. Rifkind
I am not trying to question the Government's justification for increasing the number from 138 to 150. My point is that the Government have never sought to justify increasing the figure from 138 to 150, given the disparity with the Kilbrandon recommendation. The Government have produced no evidence in favour of an Assembly of that size.
§ Mr. Ewing
I accept that correction and am sorry if I misrepresented the hon. Member. Right from the beginning, however, the Government have been of the view that certainly the first elections ought to be on the basis of two Members per parliamentary constituency. In the original White Paper we had a formula which said that if a constituency had 25 per cent. more electors than the norm it would get an additional Member, and that any constituency, which was 25 per cent. below the norm would get only one Member. That was the formula which produced the figure of 138 Members. That formula of itself brought a great many objections. People objected to the suggestion that some constituencies would have only one Member whereas certain other constituencies, because of their size, would have three Members.
I take the mind of the House back to the November 1975 White Paper and the objections made to it, and to the commitment given by the Government that we would heed those objections and, as far as lay within our ability, try to correct all of them. The figure of 150 is a correction which takes into account the objections that were made to us about this aspect of the elections to the Assembly, by which some constituencies would have only one Member. On the basis of our decision that a constituency with 25 per cent. of electors above the norm should have three Members, that constituencies at or below the norm should have two Members, and that these should be one Member for Orkney and one for Shetland, we arrived at the figure we now have.
I think that I have said sufficient from the point of view of the party machine, which is based on parliamentary constituencies. I have also said sufficient from the point of view that the new clause does not deal with the first elections. With great respect, that was where the hon. Member for Fife, East was under a misunderstanding. The new clause does not deal with the first elections. The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns is quite content with the system that the House has approved for the first elections, and his new clause deals with what happens after the first elections.
I must tell the House that it simply is not on to say to the Boundary Commission that it must draw up 100 Assembly 500 constituencies, allow for all the public inquiries and consultations concerning the drawing of electoral boundaries, and report to the Secretary of State within 12 months of the first elections. It is not only not on from that point of view. In my opinion, it would also be highly dangerous from the point of view of the political party machine. Finally, it would certainly be a departure from the system used in this country right down through the years in regard to electoral areas. Some of my hon. Friends mentioned community councils. Even a community council which casts only one vote is still related to a parliamentary constituency.
To do what is proposed would involve a departure requiring a great deal more thought than it is possible to give to the new clause. I hope that, having said that, I have persuaded the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns not to press the new clause to a Division.
§ Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)
The Minister may feel that he has said sufficient, but once again the Government have failed to justify an important measure contained in the Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) referred to the Kilbrandon Commission, as the Minister did, in considering the number of Members most appropriate for the Assembly. I think that the Minister has forgotten that the Royal Commission spent much more time in considering this aspect of devolution and all the other matters than the House of Commons was able to spend during the Committee stage. For that reason alone, the Minister might have taken the contents of the Kilbrandon Commission's report more seriously and studied it more carefully before replying to the debate.
It is quite clear that the Royal Commission looked at the number of Assemblymen from all angles and came to the view—quite rightly, in our opinion—that the right figure would be about 100. That is the figure that my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns is recommending in the clause, and it is a figure with which we agree entirely.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
Why is it Holy Writ when Kilbrandon says that there 501 should be 100 Members but completely to be rejected when he says that we should have electoral reform?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is addressing his remark to the right person. If he cares to look at the Official Report, he will find that I support proportional representation for the Assembly. I am happy to speak for myself on these matters. On the Conservative Benches we had a free vote. The hon. Gentleman is confusing, as the Minister confused, the voting system with the number of Members. Our reference to Kilbrandon, in trying to assess the number of Members that there should be in the Assembly, is confined at this moment to the relevance of 100 Members, as recommended by Kilbrandon, as the correct size for the Assembly. It has nothing at all to do with proportional representation, but the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) can never resist the urge to bring it into any part of the debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) made a number of important points in his excellent speech. He mentioned the accommodation at the Royal High School and the fact that it would be stretched even if there were only 100 members, let alone facilities for 150 members.
The Minister will be aware that the only part of the accommodation which has been agreed with its new occupants is the Press accommodation. The Press has for some time been in committee considering what its dining, drinking and reporting facilities should be like. On this one occasion the Press might at least agree with my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself that there is just no room for any more than 100 Members if the Press is to enjoy itself in its much-looked-forward-to Scottish Assembly.
The question which the Minister has persistently failed to answer is how the Government arrive at a figure of 150 Members.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
I explained to the House that we had arrived at the figure 502 of about 150 on the basis of two Members per constituency, plus an additional one for constituencies which are 25 per cent. above the norm, giving some constituencies three Members. But we have not taken away one Member from constituencies that are 25 per cent. below the norm, and we have given one Member each to Orkney and Shetland. That is how we arrive at the figure.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am grateful to the Minister for again explaining that he did not explain how the Government arrived at the figure of 150, because—as has been pointed out time and time again—it certainly was not arrived at on the basis of the work load. Every argument about the work load shows that a figure of 150 Members is far too high. The figure was not arrived at on the basis of that factor, because we can manage happily with the Scottish electorate being represented at Westminster by 71 hon. Members who have a bigger work burden than Assemblymen will have, at least initially.
Nor was the figure arrived at, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pentlands pointed out, on the basis of the number of Ministers that is needed. On any assessment of the number of Scottish Secretaries and assistant Scottish Secretaries who might be employed by the Executive in Edinburgh, a figure of about 20 would seem to be about correct. It would have been helpful if for once the Government had explained how they arrived at an important conclusion in presenting the Bill.
Apart from any other consideration, the international comparisons were extremely relevant. These were quoted at great length, and there is no need for me to repeat them now. The international comparisons with federal systems, and, indeed, with smaller independent States roughly the equivalent size of Scotland, prove the point more than anything else. Yet the Government completely ignore that point of view.
The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) made an important contribution to the debate, for two reasons. First, he spoke with first-hand knowledge of Scotland and of the political situation in Scotland. Second, he is able to look at the Bill and its proposals with a reasonably objective and detached view. I would have thought that his own colleagues might have made great use of 503 his advice and experience, which indicates that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is in no way too passionate in his criticism of the Bill. I do not think that the Government Front Bench would for one moment think that of the hon. Member for West Lothian.
The hon. Member for Oldham, East was right to express the fear which everyone in Scotland feels strongly, that of over-government. It was a factor which was again dismissed out of hand by the Minister in his reply. From the Minister's point of view, there are no problems of over-government. But there are problems of over-government in Britain and Scotland today. These problems will become very much greater and worse if the Government's proposal for 150 Members is introduced.
Surely this House has a clear duty not to smother or suffocate Scotland by imposing layer upon layer of government. Surely we must consider that the proportion of politicians to voters in Scotland would be the highest in the world. It is not a matter of one man, one vote. We are approaching a situation in Scotland where it would be one vote, one politician. That would not give the people of Scotland very much to look forward to.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
When I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Pentlands I got the impression that he was concerned about not having enough people in the Scottish Parliament to whip. He said that he could not accept 71 Members because there would be too many Ministers, too many Whips and not enough people left to whip. Perhaps the Government are suggesting a figure of 150 Members because they will have rather more Whips and feel that they need more people to whip.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who certainly emphasises the bureaucratic love of the Labour Party. But, in fact, "the hon. Member for North Angus and Pentlands" is my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), because it was he who played the numbers game in a way which was extremely interesting, if complicated. The fact remains that the business of government in Scotland is rightly proclaimed to 504 be the only growth industry that exists in the country since the present Government took over.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) and my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) both argued a logical and commonsense case for starting small with 71 Members and, if necessary, enlarging the size of the Assembly. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) was also right to say that our terms of reference at Westminster did not require us to consider the views of candidates for the Assembly and whether they might be disappointed if some further constitutional change took place. But the Minister again rejected the argument that the Assembly might start small and enlarge if necessary, without giving any reason.
It cannot be that the Assembly has to be set up in such a tremendous rush that we cannot give the Boundary Commission a proper amount of time to do its job properly. That seems to be the only defence which the Minister offered. There is no case, therefore, for the number of Assemblymen which has been put forward and is contained in the Bill.
The Minister said with some finality "That is it." It may be that when this part of the Bill is debated in another place it will look at the paucity of the arguments put forward by the Minister and decide that some amendments are necessary.
At this stage, one cannot tell whether that will happen. What we can do this afternoon, and what we will do, is to vote for the new clause in order to reduce the number of Members now. I sincerely hope that it wil be passed.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can reply to the debate. I intend to be brief.
This debate, perhaps more than any other, has been disappointing. I believe that the Minister based his reply on utterly bogus arguments. He said that the size of the Assembly advocated by Kilbrandon—around 100—was directly related to the method of election. That might be the case if one reads the summary of Kilbrandon's conclusions.
I think that the Minister has misled the House. I refer him to paragraph 789 of 505 the Kilbrandon Commission Report dealing with the size of the Assembly. The first two sentences say:The Northern Ireland House of Commons had 52 members. This number was acknowledged to be too small.Later, the paragraph says:On the other hand a regional assembly very much larger than this would be unwieldy. The precise number of members needed would depend on the extent of the devolved functions, the geographical area covered and the method of working, but we think that something of the order of a hundred would be about right.There is no reference there to the method of election. If the Minister based his argument on that, it makes the rest of the argument bogus.
I recognise that the main practical disadvantage is that between the first and second elections there could be a reduction in the number of Members. However, I put the point that there could easily be an adjustment in the number of Scottish Members in the House of Commons, leading to an adjustment in constituencies. The situation is not fixed after the first election.
I hope that tonight's debate has shown that there is a desire among the Scottish people that the Assembly should be smaller for reasons of better working. Between now and the Bill's stages in another place the Government may come to realise that for the first election an Assembly of another size may be more appropriate.
§ The Minister's arguments were based on a bogus interpretation of the Kilbrandon Commission. They were based on grounds of practical convenience to the Boundary Commission and to political parties.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
The hon. Member's interpretation does not tie in with mine. I did not accuse him of being bogus and unfair, and if he wants to swop insults I will do so and he will come off worse.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
Really, the Minister is playing Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and I do not want to join in that. I deal with arguments on their merits. I do not argue against him just because he argues against me. That is not the way a proper debating chamber should work.
The Minister based his arguments on matters of convenience, and that argument is completely unworthy of the importance of the issue tonight. We are dealing with the constitution, not matters of practical convenience. I am dealing with the future success of the Scottish Assembly and the respect that it will command in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I believe that a smaller Assembly is more likely to be successful and to command respect, and for these reasons I hope that the House will support me.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 236, Noes 276.509
|Division No. 112]||AYES||[6.43 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Alison, Michael||Bryan, Sir paut||Dunlop, John|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Buck, Antony||Durant, Tony|
|Arnold, Tom||Budgen, Nick||Dykes, Hugh|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Bulmer, Esmond||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Atkinson, David (Bournemouth, East)||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Emery, Peter|
|Awdry, Daniel||Carlisle, Mark||Eyre, Reginald|
|Baker, Kenneth||Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Banks, Robert||Channon, Paul||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Bell, Ronald||Churchill, W. S.||Farr, John|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Benyon, W.||Clark, William (Croydon S)||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)|
|Biffen, John||Clegg, Walter||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cockroft, John||Forman, Nigel|
|Blaker, Peter||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Fox, Marcus|
|Body, Richard||Cope, John||Fry, Peter|
|Bottomley, Peter||Costain, A. P.||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Gardmer, Edward (S. Fylde)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Critchley, Julian||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Bradford, Rev Robert||Crowder, F. P.||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)||Godber, Rt Hon Joseph|
|Brittan, Leon||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Goodhart, Philip|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Goodhew, Victor|
|Brooke, Peter||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Brotherton, Michael||Drayson, Burnaby||Gorst, John|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Mackay, Andrew (Stechford)||Rhodes James, R.|
|Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Gray, Hamish||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Grieve, Percy||Madel, David||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Griffiths, Eldon||Marshall, Michael, (Arundel)||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Grist, Ian||Marten, Neil||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mates, Michael||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mather, Carol||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Hannam, John||Maude, Angus||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald||Scott, Nicholas|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Mawby, Ray||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Shepherd, Colin|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Mayhew, Patrick||Shersby, Michael|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Sillars, James|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Silvester, Fred|
|Heseltine, Michael||Mills, Peter||Sims, Roger|
|Hicks, Robert||Miscampbell, Norman||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hodgson, Robin||Moate, Roger||Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)|
|Holland, Philip||Molyneaux, James||Speed, Keith|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Monro, Hector||Spence, John|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Montgomery, Fergus||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Sproat, Iain|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Stainton, Keith|
|Hurd, Douglas||Morgan, Geraint||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Stanley, John|
|James, David||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Stokes, John|
|Jessel, Toby||Mudd, David||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Neave, Airey||Tapsell, Peter|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Nelson, Anthony||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Neubert, Michael||Tebbit, Norman|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Newton, Tony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Nott, John||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Onslow, Carnley||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Vanghan, Dr Gerard|
|Knox, David||Page, Richard (Workington)||Viggers, Peter|
|Lamont, Norman||Paisley, Rev Ian||Wakeham, John|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Parkinson, Cecil||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Latham, Michael (Melton)||Pattie, Geoffrey||Walters, Dennis|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Percival, Ian||Warren, Kenneth|
|Lawson, Nigel||Peyton, Rt Hon John||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Le Merchant, Spencer||Pink, R. Bonner,||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Lloyd, Ian||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Loveridge, John||Prior, Rt Hon James||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Action)|
|Luce, Richard||Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Younger, Hon George|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rathbone, Tim|
|McCusker, H.||Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter||TELLERS, FOR THE AYES:|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Rees, Peter (Dover, & Deal)||Mr. Alick Bunchanan-Smith and|
|MacGregor, John||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Mr. Malcolm Rifkind|
|Abse, Leo||Bunchanan, Richard||Davis, Clinton (Hanckney C)|
|Allaun, Frank||Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Deakins, Eric|
|Anderson, Donald||Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Campbell, Ian||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Canavan, Dennis||Dempsey, James|
|Ashley, Jack||Cant, R. B.||Doig, Peter|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Carmichael, Neil||Dormand, J. D.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Douglas-Mann, Bruce|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Cartwright, John||Dunn, James A.|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Clemitson, Ivor||Dunnett, Jack|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Cock, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Eadie, Alex|
|Bates, Alf||Cohen, Stanley||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)|
|Bean, R. E.||Coleman, Donald||English, Michael|
|Beith, A. J.||Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Ennals, Rt Hon David|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Evans, Gwynfor (Carmathen)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)|
|Bishop, Rt Hon Edward||Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Crawford, Douglas||Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)|
|Boardman, H.||Crawshaw, Richard||Faulds, Andrew|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Cryer, Bob||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Flannery, Martin|
|Bradley, Tom||Dalyell, Tam||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Davidson, Arthur||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Forrester, John|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Davies, Denzil (Lianelli)||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)|
|Buchan, Norman||Davies, Ifor, (Gower)||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'W'd)|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||McCartney, Hugh||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Freud, Clement||MacCormick, Iain||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||McElhone, Frank||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|George, Bruce||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Gilbert, Dr John||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackintosh, John P.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Golding, John||Maclennan, Robert||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Gould, Bryan||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Snape, Peter|
|Gourlay, Harry||McNamara, Kevin||Spearing, Nigel|
|Graham, Ted||Madden, Max||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Magee, Bryan||Stallard, A. W.|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Stewart, Rt Hon Donal|
|Grocott, Bruce||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Hardy, Peter||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Stoddart, David|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Maynard, Miss Joan||Stott, Roger|
|Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Meacher, Michael||Strang, Gavin|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.|
|Hayman, Mrs Helene||Mikardo, Ian||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Hooley, Frank||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Mitchell, Austin||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Horam, John||Moonman, Eric||Thomas, Ron (Briston NW)|
|Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Thompson, George|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Huckfield, Les||Moyle, Roland||Tierney, Sydney|
|Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Tinn, James|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Tomlinson, John|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Noble, Mike||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hunter, Adam||Oakes, Gordon||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||O'Halloran, Michael||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Orbach, Maurice||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Ovenden, John||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Janner, Greville||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Ward, Michael|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Padley, walter||Watkins, David|
|Jeger, Mrs Lena||Palmer, Arthur||Watkinson, John|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pardoe, John||Watt, Hamish|
|John, Brynmor||Park, George||Weetch, Ken|
|Johnson, James (Hull West)||Parker, John||Weitzman, David|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Parry, Robert||Wellbeloved, James|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pendry, Tom||Welsh, Andrew|
|Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Phenhaligon, David||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Phipps, Dr Colin||White, James (Pollok)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Price, William (Rugby)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Judd, Frank||Radice, Giles||Whitlock, William|
|Kaufman, Gerald||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Kelley, Richard||Richardson, Miss Jo||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Kerr, Russell||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Lambie, David||Roberts, Gwilyn (Cannock)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Herford)|
|Lamborn, Harry||Robinson, Geoffrey||Williams, Sir Thomas (warrington)|
|Lamond, James||Roderick, Caerwyn||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Rodgeers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||Wislon, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Lee, John||Rooker, J. W.||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Roper, John||Woodall, Alec|
|Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Rose, Paul B.||Woof, Robert|
|Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of wight)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Rowlands, Ted|
|Litterick, Tom||Sandelson, Neville||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Sedgemore, Brian||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Server, John||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson|
§ Question accordingly negatived.